Jackson Pollock

Overview

Jackson Pollock is widely considered the most challenging and influential American artist of the 20th century. In his revolutionary paintings of the late 1940s, he dripped paint into complex webs of interlacing lines, rhythmically punctuated by pools of color. With their allover composition, apparent abstraction, and spontaneous but controlled paint handling, these powerful works announced the emergence of Abstract Expressionism. This sumptuously illustrated book offers a fresh overview of his achievement, ...
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Overview

Jackson Pollock is widely considered the most challenging and influential American artist of the 20th century. In his revolutionary paintings of the late 1940s, he dripped paint into complex webs of interlacing lines, rhythmically punctuated by pools of color. With their allover composition, apparent abstraction, and spontaneous but controlled paint handling, these powerful works announced the emergence of Abstract Expressionism. This sumptuously illustrated book offers a fresh overview of his achievement, reinterpreted for a new generation and features a complete visual record of the artist's work, including over 200 color reproductions of paintings, drawings, and prints, enhanced by life-sized details, foldouts, and documentary photographs. An essay by Kirk Varnedoe explores Pollock's life, the mythology that so quickly grew up around him as the prototypical "action painter", and the different critical schools that have tried to lay claim to his legacy. Pepe Karmel offers new insight into Pollock's famous "drip" technique, as revealed by an intensive, computer-assisted study of photographs and films of Pollock at work. This volume was published to accompany the first major survey of the artist's career since 1967, held in 1998 at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The recent Jackson Pollock exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art was a critical triumph, proving that sometimes more is better. With the line to get in the door snaking endlessly around the block and the faces of the viewers inside showing astonishment at the sheer experience of seeing so much of the pioneer of abstract expressionism's work in one place, Pollock's position in art history has become assured. Featured on the cover of the catalogue is one of Hans Namuth's photographs of the artist at work; many more are shown inside. An essay on the artist's turbulent life and violent end are highlights, but the real story here is the more than 200 color reproductions of the paintings, prints, and drawings, including some to-scale details and gatefold spreads of major works.
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
...Pollock's...paintings seem with the passage of time increasingly classic. —The New York Times
Michael Kimmelman
The following is a review of the Jackson Pollock retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York:

...The retrospective, a landmark, is nearly perfect. Restraint is pointless. If you care about art you live for exhibitions like this, in which an artist, against the heavy odds of his own skewed talent and unhinged personality, pursued something so wild, untested and mysterious that its full meaning was unclear even to him, yet who briefly wrung from his peculiar system of painting one variation after another.

This is perhaps the biggest accomplishment of the retrospective, which Kirk Varnedoe has organized with Pete Karmel: bringing together so many different pictures from Pollack's glory years, they prove how little the drip paintings conform to any single description (starting with the word drip) and how much they demand to be regarded closely, anew, one by one--which is what exhibitions are for. It's funny how an old-fashioned formalist re-examination of the art can seem like a fresh approach after all the psychobabble and cold war conspiracy theorizing and pop social analysis that has dominated Pollock studies for years....

His biggest triumphs are, of course, the classic paintings from 1950: 'Autumn Rhythm,' 'No. 32,' and 'One.' They are hung together here so you can scan them by swiveling your head 180 degrees. It's an amazing sight. Standing a few feet away from them, I had the odd and slightly dizzying feeling of staring up into the sky....

Nothing in art since then, not Pop or Minimalism or anything else, is as radical and audacious. It doesn't matter that other artists dripped paint before Pollock; they didn't make of it what he did. To play C-E-G on a piano is not to compose a Mozart sonata. Pollock's paintings remain the central story of modern art in the second half of the century, above all because they gave permission to all other artists to break the rules.

...Pollock didn't come out of nowhere, but he was a quintessential American because of his aspiration to make something from what seemed like nothing. Having said more than he knew with his drip paintings, he clearly didn't know what else to say at the end of his life.

In retrospect, he had already, of course, said more than enough. -- The New York Times

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
...Pollock's...paintings seem with the passage of time increasingly classic.
The New York Times
Evelyn Toynton
...[A]n original contribution to Pollock scholarship...[Analyzes] the techniques he used to produce the poured paintings....far from being abstract, they may be the most concrete paintings ever made.
The New York Times Book Review
Jeanne Siegel
There was a lot to absorb in this exhibition that relates to the face-off between figuration and abstraction, process, scale, the play of space, tactility, consistency, beauty, the abject, progress, and innovation, to say nothing of the continued viability of painting itself.
Art Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870700682
  • Publisher: The Museum of Modern Art
  • Publication date: 9/1/1998
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 11.94 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Jackson Pollock is widely considered the most challenging and influential American artist of the 20th century. In his revolutionary paintings of the late 1940s, he dripped paint into complex webs of interlacing lines, rhythmically punctuated by pools of color. With their all-over composition, apparent abstraction and spontaneous but controlled paint handling, these powerful works announced the emergence of abstract expressionism.

Kirk Varnedoe, formerly chief curator of the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, is professor of historical studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University.

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Table of Contents

Foreword 9
Preface & Acknowledgments 10
Comet: Jackson Pollock's Life and Work 15
Pollock at Work: The Films and Photographs of Hans Namuth 87
Plates 138
Chronology 315
Selected Bibliography 330
Index of Illustrations 333
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